I’m struggling so hard to keep productive, but I’m glad that I can manage this much, at least. To be honest, I’m fairly proud of these …
These are poppets/dolls that I made to represent each of the goddesses that I’ve had contact with, using the colors I associate best with them. From left to right: Anu (she appears to me in a brown, plain dress), Nemain (she wears warrior’s garb, with dark black hair), and Aine (she’s like a fire, and absolutely stunning). These will represent those goddesses on my altar, as soon as I can set up a more permanent one at home.
These need a light wash, just to help cleanse them (also to get rid of any dust - that yarn was in my closet for a while!), and then I will be hugging and cuddling them all the goddamn time. It was a little thing for me to do, but I’m glad I managed to do it. :)
I'm curious about how to get into spinning yarn. Is there a process you recommend for beginners? Is it better to start with a drop spindle or go big and get a spinning wheel? This is uncharted territory for me so I'm a little lost!
ahhh this is an exciting question! I love spinning!
here are my suggestions (from my personal experience learning how to spin, others might disagree!):
1. there are many different types of fibers to spin and it can be overwhelming to decide which fiber and preparation to start with. I recommend 100% wool to begin, preferably a wool with a longer staple length (Polwarth is my favorite, BFL and Merino are also good). personally, I think the best fiber prep for beginners is a batt (because it’s so fluffy), but top or roving could work too (just could be slightly more frustrating, especially if slightly felted). I would stay away from chunky batts and fiber blends in the beginning, since the irregularities can make it difficult for you to get a feel of how to draft.
2. start with a turkish drop spindle - this is a special type of spindle that will make a center-pull ball directly from your spinning, making it much easier to ply the yarn. you can find turkish drop spindles on etsy, and I think even knit picks has a pretty affordable one (or they used to). wheels are expensive and large, and a great investment once you know you like to spin. they also move much more quickly, and can be extremely frustrating to beginners who have less control. spinning on a spindle allows you to do everything you can do on a wheel (and more, especially if you are interested in spinning very fine yarns or if you really value portability), and many people prefer it. the trade-off is that, for most people, spinning on a spindle is a much slower process than spinning on a wheel and it can be harder on your body/back long-term (both of these issues are true for me). even though I knew that I wanted to get a wheel, I waited about a year before making the transition. I think my spinning is better for it and the spindle was a great way to learn many of the foundations of spinning without making a huge monetary investment.
3. you can teach yourself many of the basics of spinning using youtube. once you’re a little more advanced, you can take advantage of classes at your local fiber store and/or local crafting guilds to further advance your craft and learn new techniques. when you spin, you’re putting twist into combed sheep hair (wool), which makes it all stick together into a cord (1 ply). when starting out, I’m a big fan of “park and draft” - this means you put down your spindle (park) and pull apart your wool into an even tube (draft), then you twirl the spindle and put the twist in. if this doesn’t make sense, please look up a youtube video! it’s a hard thing to describe in words and will make a lot more sense when you see someone do it! :)
4. make your first yarn a 2-ply yarn. the turkish spindle will allow you to ply one end of the ball with the other, which means you won’t have to spin the two plies separately initially. your first few yarns will probably be very overspun (too much twist), which is totally normal. making a plied yarn will help to balance out that twist.
5. don’t get discouraged if your first yarn looks weird or isn’t usable for knitting or crocheting. spinning is super tactile and it will “click” relatively quickly. for example, here are pictures of my first 3 yarns: one, two, three. as you can see, I improved substantially and it only took 3 skeins.
6. once you understand the basics and can make yarn that seems usable, spin a skein (or three) with a project in mind and complete that project. working with your own handspun is very rewarding and also will help you improve as a spinner. for example, you may find that you prefer variable weight yarns over yarns that are extremely even (or vice-versa). maybe you’ll find that the skein you liked so much as yarn doesn’t quite work when you try to knit it (it may feel rope’ish, or too tightly plied, or not plied enough, or too slubby, or it might come apart in areas where there isn’t enough twist, or it might have too much twist, etc. there are many things we strive for when spinning in terms of yarn weight, balance, and appearance - working with your own yarn with help to guide you on your journey to spin yarn that works for the types of projects you love to knit or crochet. it’s also an extremely fulfilling experience! :) here are some of my favorite handspun projects, with pictures of the yarns if I have them (many of the yarn pics are just of the leftovers after the project, but you get the idea):
Just finished this hat yesterday. Used my handspun gradient dyed organic Polwarth wool with Finnish 2+2 nalbinding stitch. I was so tempted to keep this, but I have several of my own nalbound hats already!
phew!! first brioche pattern done! there are 3 mistakes that are visible, but i think i can repair them if i’m really sneaky..so ready to start the next row! i’m going to be using my handspun malabrigo!
This is my third version of this scarf which I designed as a simple reversible (garter stitch) scarf
This version I am knitting in my own hand-dyed handspun merino yarn. I am thrilled with the way the color is working and can hardly wait to try a different color palette
I still have a lot to learn about spinning but knitting up my own handspun will push me to be more consistent